Thursday, December 29, 2016
Apprentice Katie Clawson Giving Oaklawn a Try
PHOTO ATTACHED: Credit Coady Photography
Among Katie Clawson’s goals in 2017 is to win enough races to be in the conversation for an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion apprentice jockey. That journey for Clawson, 19, is scheduled to begin at Oaklawn, where she will ride for the first time during the 57-day meeting that opens Jan. 13.
A native of Mesa, Ariz., Clawson has six victories from 95 career starts this year, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization, and purse earnings of $173,191.
Clawson rode her first winner June 17 at Churchill Downs, a front-running 5 ½-length triumph for trainer Kellyn Gorder, who she had also worked for as an exercise rider for approximately 10 months, including the 2016 Oaklawn meeting.
“My progress has been, I think, better than I expected,” Clawson said Wednesday afternoon. “I thought that maybe it would be a little bit slower of a learning curve, but I had a lot of people helping me along the way that really helped in my introduction period, when you’re learning a lot of things really quickly.”
Clawson has ridden at six tracks – Belterra, Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, Indiana Grand, Keeneland and Laurel – and won races for five trainers, including two for Gorder.
Clawson is named on two horses Friday at Laurel, but said she plans to be in Hot Springs early next week to begin preparing for the 2017 Oaklawn meeting. She said she decided to winter in Arkansas, instead of Maryland, because several of her major clients last summer and fall in Kentucky, including Gorder; Gorder’s former assistant, Johnny Ortiz; Randy Morse; and Lynn Whiting, will have strings in Hot Springs.
One of Clawson’s victories at the Churchill Downs fall meet was aboard Green Card, a 2-year-old Proud Citizen gelding Whiting trains for Oaklawn owner Charles Cella.
“So there’s mostly just a lot of Kentucky people around, and there’s been interest in naming me on horses,” Clawson said.
Clawson said her agent at Oaklawn will be “Big Steve” Krajcir of Hot Springs, who will also book mounts for two former local riding champions – Hall of Famer Calvin Borel and Jon Court.
Clawson said she has been around horses most of her life and decided to become a jockey in 2009. During this chapter of her apprenticeship, Clawson will receive a 7-pound weight allowance until her 35th winner.
Female apprentice jockeys have had success at Oaklawn, notably Beverly Burress (30 victories at the 2006 meeting) and Kathy Moore (24 in 1980).
“My goals, right now, are just to keep getting better as a rider in general,” Clawson said. “And, then kind of awards-wise, I’d love to be in the running for the Eclipse Award this coming year and have a good career for as long as I can after that.”
Clawson resides in Brazil, Ind., about 65 miles southwest of Indianapolis.
Other scheduled newcomers to the 2017 Oaklawn riding colony include Declan Cannon, Tommy Pompell and Ty Kennedy.
Smarty Jones Bound
Dazzling Keeneland maiden winner Uncontested will make his 3-year-old debut in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 16, owner Harry Rosenblum of Little Rock, Ark., said Thursday morning.
“He’s probably the most talented 2-year-old I’ve ever had,” said Rosenblum, who won the 2015 Smarty Jones with Far Right.
Uncontested, who is trained by Wayne Catalano, was a front-running six-length winner of his Oct. 19 career debut at Keeneland, narrowly missing the 6 ½-furlong track record.
In his only other start, Uncontested finished fourth in the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) Nov. 26 at Churchill Downs. The son of Tiz Wonderful broke from post 12 and was stretching out to 1 1/16 miles.
“That was asking a lot of him,” Rosenblum said.
Other horses on the grounds pointing for the one-mile Smarty Jones include Petrov and Warrior’s Club, third in the Kentucky Jockey Club.
Jockey Marlon St. Julien is on the grounds and scheduled to ride at Oaklawn for the first time since winning 21 races at the 2002 meeting.
St. Julien’s only other Oaklawn victory was the $50,000 Pippin Stakes in 2000, according to Equibase.
“Long time ago,” St. Julien said during training hours Thursday morning. “Fourteen years, right?”
St. Julien, 44, said he had been getting on horses in Kentucky for Oaklawn-based trainers Randy Morse and Ron Moquett, adding a “couple of people” then encouraged him to go to “Hot Springs,” instead of wintering at Turfway Park.
“Just popped up and did it,” St. Julien said. “Actually, I was going to go to [Fair Grounds], but I didn’t have much business going there. I figured I would come over here because I have better business. It looks good so far. I’m glad I did it.”
St. Julien, who has 2,401 career victories since 1989, will be represented by Bobby Dean.
The track was rated fast for workouts Thursday morning. … Multiple stakes winner Shotgun Kowboy worked a half-mile in :49 just after the track opened Thursday morning. … Easter Indy, winner of the $100,000 Downthedustyroad Breeders’ Stakes this year at Oaklawn, went 5 furlongs in 1:01.60 after the first of two scheduled breaks to renovate the surface Thursday morning. … Trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs said Bella Verde, a 2-year-old Tapizar filly, is under consideration for the $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes Jan. 21. Bella Verde is 1 for 2 this year, breaking her maiden Nov. 19 at Churchill Downs. “We think a lot of her,” Fires said Wednesday morning. Bella Verde, who recorded a half-mile bullet Wednesday morning (:48.40), could also resurface in an early season allowance race, Fires said. … Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Subtle Indian has been retired, Rob Atras, who oversees trainer Robertino Diodoro’s Hot Springs division, said Thursday morning. Atras said the 4-year-old gelding was injured in his last start, the $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) July 31 at Del Mar. Subtle Indian won 7 of 12 career starts and earned $600,645. He won all four of his starts this year at Oaklawn, including the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3), and also captured Oaklawn’s $100,000 Gazebo Stakes in 2015.